As fatal drug overdose numbers decline there's a new drug threat - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

As fatal drug overdose numbers decline there's a new drug threat

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Ohio and the Mahoning Vally are finally getting a handle on the deadly opioid overdose epidemic.

In Mahoning County alone there are 15 fewer overdose deaths this year compared to the same time last year according to the coroner's office. 

The Mahoning County Coroner's stats show that there were 48 confirmed fatal overdoses in 2017 and 33 in 2018.

But the threat of dangerous drugs is far from over.

People are now dying from fentanyl mixed or laced with drugs like cocaine or heroin.

Cocaine and fentanyl are now the leading cause of overdose deaths in Ohio, just last year killing more than one thousand people.

That's compared to 680 deaths statewide related to a heroin/fentanyl combination.

21 News has learned the Mahoning Valley is not immune to this deadly mixture.

Tyrone Hyshaw, an Investigator with the Mahoning Valley Drug Task Force, said, "We don't know if they're taking fentanyl and cocaine together or if it's something separate.  If it's residue left behind from packaging from previous drugs."

Ruth Bowdish, a chemical dependency counselor at on demand in Austintown, said, "So we'll have individuals maybe come for a drug screen or somewhere along those lines that are surprised by the results.  And that should definitely raise a few eyebrows, and it's definitely a growing concern because we know how lethal the fentanyl and even the carfentanil can be.  So definitely we are seeing a trend that is very unfortunate."

So far in 2018 in Mahoning County, five people have overdosed and died from a combination of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin.  Three people have died from a fentanyl and heroin mix, and two people have overdosed and died from fentanyl-laced with cocaine.

But now we've learned of yet another serious threat that those buying the drugs didn't see coming.  Fentanyl and the use of pill presses that result in counterfeit pills.

"You see what's happening is that individuals are using fentanyl and making counterfeit pills.  Most often sold as any oxy, OxyContin, oxycodone, prescription pain medication.  And unless you have an extremely well-trained eye, it's almost impossible to tell the difference between a genuine pill and a counterfeit pill.  So what's happening is you have an individual that thinks they're taking a prescription pain medication that they're getting off the street and that they're  going to be safe because they're staying away from heroin and what we're seeing is there is fentanyl involved in those types of drugs as well," Bowdish said.

Exactly how the pop star Prince died by unknowingly taking fake pain pills laced with a high level of fentanyl.

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